I Don’t Want to be Famous But I do Want to be Influential.
Fame makes us captive to our audience, we are at their behest. We become indiscriminately available to others instead of being available to God, which is one of the reasons why Jesus maintained prayer at the height of his popularity. Popularity can easily turn good into an enemy of God’s will/best. But who wouldn’t want to stick around when people are clamouring for you, hanging on every word and action? Mark 1:35-39. “The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. They said, “Everyone is asking for you.” But he replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I came.” So he travelled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and expelling demons from many people.”
Fame is ‘ability’ or ‘gift’ oriented, whereas influence is ‘character’ oriented, and takes much longer to develop, be effective, and noticed. Fame intoxicates and consequently deceives us – we begin to believe our press. Influence goes under the radar for much longer than fame is prepared to. Fame offers the illegitimate; influence has no such offer or interest. Jesus spurned notoriety and a cheap way to it in favour of giving his attention and life to the worship and service of God and not what was enticingly offered by Satan. Luke 4:5-8. “Then the Devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. The Devil told him, “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them — because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’ ” Not for a moment was this less a temptation to Jesus, because he was Jesus. If he struggled I’m not sure how we will any the less.
You can be given fame. Luke 2:52. “Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.” But it is another matter to be given to it – it will be a demanding mistress.
I fear for the young (and the not so young) that become famous. Few have the inner resource to not be affected, a rare person indeed. Western Christianity has, taking its lead from the world, created a star culture that ‘reflects’ much more than it challenges or ‘reaches.’ And it is very difficult to distinguish the lives of many ‘popular’ Christians from the world around them. They divorce at the same rate; they are addicted to life enhancers and styles much as those around who have no pretence of moral fibre and belief; they are as disconnected from the safety of community as their fellow travellers, but very rarely did they ever set out to become like they have, but the show must go on.
Influence is a life slowly lived. It is not on display but is noticed by many. It is never cheap or easy.
Who has had the most influence in your life? It is almost certainly not a movie star or media personality, sports star or one famous for being famous – read, vacuous. And how long has that influence taken? It is unlikely to be overnight. People crave for a way forward, accessible and reproducible in their lives. Influence enables and empowers this need whereas fame creates envy and unhealthy adulation therefore personal minimisation.
I don’t want to be famous, but I do want to be influential.